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Community support reeled in by walleye derby
By Bryan Jessop

Waiting until the last possible minute paid of in grand style for one entry in the annual Leamington Walleye Derby.

Actually, it paid off to the tune of well over a grand.

Fourteen-year-old Dylan Gignac of Amherstburg brought in the very last of hundreds of fish to be measured for a shot at the event’s grand prize of $1,350. With one minute to go before the deadline at the measurement tent, Gignac’s submission of 29.125” took the top spot over a 28.75” entry by Wheatley’s Glen Lamb that stood as the competition’s leader for most of the day.

Eight of the derby’s Top 10 finishers hailed from either Windsor-Essex or Wheatley, with the remaining two cash winners having made the trip from Lexington, Ohio and Kitchener, Ont. The top fish measured three quarters of an inch shorter than last year’s biggest walleye.

“It was a busy day out there — just not many really big ones,” explained Kingsville Lions Club member Dan Nowlan, who was one of a handful of volunteers who manned the measurement table.

This year’s Top 10 walleye and biggest perch winners were as follows:

• 1st — Dylan Gignac (Amherstburg), 29.125”;

• 2nd — Glen Lamb (Wheatley), 28.75”;

• 3rd — Al Hutchins (Windsor), 28.625”;

• 4th — Rusty O’Halloran (Belle River), 28.5”;

• 5th — Garret Roussy (Kitchener), 28”;

• 6th — Jerry Pokanka (Lexington, Ohio), 26.625”;

• 7th — Adrian Smit (Kitchener), 26.125”;

• 8th — Kelly Bruner (Wheatley), 26”;

• 9th — Dennis Lefaive (Stoney Point), 26”;

• 10th — Jacob Thiessen (Leamington), 25.375”;

• longest perch — Chip Ogglesby, 11”.

The derby was once again organized by the Kingsville Lions Club with assistance from staff representing the event’s host, the Leamington Municipal Marina. This year’s competition drew a crowd of 280 participants, who paid entry fees of $25 each. While most of the event’s anglers came from throughout Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent, a number of others crossed the border from Michigan and Ohio while some made the jaunt from the London and Kitchener-Waterloo areas.

Money was raised through ticket sales, a 50/50 draw and food and beverage concessions. The beverage tent was organized by the Leamington Kinsmen Club while perch dinners were available from Road Chef On Site Catering. The Kingsville Lions also offered barbecued food items for participants after the derby concluded at 3:30 p.m.

“It takes a mountain of people to pull this whole thing off,” explained Walleye Derby committee member Kim Treanor of the Kingsville Lions. “From sponsors to the Leamington Kinsmen to the Kingsville Lions and the staff here at Leamington Marina, it’s a huge team effort. The professionalism from the Marina’s staff is spot on. This couldn’t happen without them. I don’t think there’s another marina like it.”

Proceeds from the event will be split between Kingsville Lions Club functions and support of Erie Shores Hospice in Leamington. Planning and preparation for the derby began in October of last year and for its fifth installment, included survey cards placed on the tables of participants who gathered in the Marina pavilion for the announcement of prize winners and draws for 75 door prize items contributed by local businesses, individuals and organizations.

“There were a lot of opportunities for people to walk away with prizes that were worth more than what they paid to enter,” Treanor explained. “The sponsors who step forward for us are just incredible.”
Major sponsors this year included Ian Murray Insurance and Financial Services Inc., Collins Barrow Chartered Professional Accountants, Century 21, Canadian Tire, Pelee Island Winery, Schroeder Electric and Howe Fit. Additional sponsorship came from Vision Reality and County Chevrolet of Essex, Leamington Chrysler, Birdies Perch, Southpoint Lally Ford nad Presteve Foods of Leamington, Chartwell Senior Living and Frescho of Kingsville, 4D Sausage of Cottam, Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens of Ruthven and Dave Royka of Wheatley.

Before filled out survey cards were collected, many participants offered feedback on the derby vocally.

“I’ve been in a lot of fishing derbies, but this one is the best I’ve ever known,” said Jim Jeffs of Amherstburg, who took part in the Leamington Walleye Derby for the second time. “They should be very proud of this. I won’t miss another one.”
For Leamington Marina staff including manager Ronan Oliver, the day began at about 3 a.m. Oliver noted that the line-up to use the boat launch began forming at about 3:30 a.m. for 4 a.m. starts.

“It’s been a wonderful and successful day,” Oliver said after the final measurements for the second of two flights were taken.

Although a date has not yet been set for the sixth annual event, a different weekend for the next derby is possible. For updates, check the website www.leamington.ca/en/discover/marina.asp.
 

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